Newcastle United right-back Emil Krafth will make his long-awaited return from an ACL injury when he features for the under-21s this evening.
The Sweden international hasn’t played a match of any kind in 13 months after he sustained a serious knee injury in a second round Carabao Cup tie at Tranmere Rovers last August.
After what Krafth described as a long road back, the 29-year-old has been eased back into first-team training this month and will take a gigantic step towards completing his recovery as United’s second string host Nottingham Forest in Premier League 2 tonight (kick-off 7pm).
Emil Krafth discusses his comeback
Reflecting on his time on the sidelines, Krafth told United’s matchday programme: “Sometimes it’s tough, you know, just coming here every day. For months you do the same work all the time. I think, for me, the first five months was the toughest because you are only in the gym all the time. It felt like I went into a bunker or something when the lads go out onto the pitch - I could never see training because when they went out, I went to the gym, and you just spend so much time at the training ground.
“You go home, you’re exhausted, you go home and sleep... wake up the next day and do the hard work again, for such a long time. I mean like, sometimes the glass just, how do you say, over the top? And you just lose your momentum sometimes. But I think this is normal. I think that’s why I haven’t been there all the time - I’ve been back to Sweden for a couple of weeks, for example, to get some more motivation, change the environment, see some other people.
“But since I’ve been out on the grasss, I’ve been here all the time. When you’re out for that long a time, you need a bit of a switch-off for your mental health and everything. It’s been a long road, to be fair. I’ve had my ups and downs during the rehabilitation but now I’ve been back on the pitch for quite a long time - a couple of months - and for the last four weeks or so I’ve been with the team, which is a really good feeling.
“That’s your target from day one - to be back with the team and start training and play game. Of course, I have a little bit more until I’m fit enough to play a game but that’s going to come. I’ve trained really hard out there with the team. I’m probably going to play a game for the under-21s, just to get some game time and get fit, but overall it feels really good to be back. “
What Eddie Howe has said
Providing an update on Krafth earlier this month, Howe described the player as “vital”. He said: “It’s early steps for Emil but great to see him back, he’s a brilliant character.
“He’s trained four or five sessions now and he’s got better with each one and I think the group are happy to see him with us again, he’s got a great mentality and is a vital part of our squad.”